This might sound like an oxymoron, no? Surely everyone wants to do good, or at the very least not cause harm to their fellow citizens and the world around us. I’d like to think that we don’t have two sets of moral standards, one for life and then, oh, one for work, where we feel compelled or even worse, incentivized, to blur the lines just a little. The first helps us navigate the decisions we make in our personal lives everyday. How we treat, and want to be treated by our family, friends, and of course, the organizations and brands that we need or want everyday. These relationships we usually hold to a high standard. After all, I put great store by the friendships I have, some for nearly forty years. So we’re open, honest, transparent and caring, all the things we want in return from our closest relationships. The same holds true outside our immediate circle, whether I’m choosing a new diesel car, online managing my bank account, booking a ticket to a gig, or standing in the grocery store choosing what mayonnaise I want in my sandwich. We want honesty and authenticity and to be as sure as we possibly can that these are good people were trusting and investing our money with.
So it always never fails to surprise me when somehow, someone has a different set of standards the moment they walk through the office door. I recently was gutted to hear a story that a company I’d admired from the moment I came across them was blurring the lines, allegedly embellishing their story beyond the credible. From their R&D story, to their investor profiles, to the way they treat their people, things didn’t quite add up. A brand I wanted so hard to succeed because we shared the same values and outlook, had just behaved like the corporations they were meant to be showing the way to. Now, I don’t want to assume that everyone there has dubious standards, but it begs the question, what their culture is really like, if someone feels empowered or pressured to behave this way. This is of course, an extreme example and not all the decisions we make at work everyday are this cut and dried, but you can imagine the attrition of borderline decisions that lead up to this point. Having true, authentic values, that really come from everyone in the organization won’t always stop rogue behavior but they really do provide everyone, new and old, with the message that here, we don’t have that second set of ‘work’ values, just the internal ones that we all have inside us.
We all know the power of social media, good and bad to spread the news, so firstly, why take the risk? But beyond that, if your brand isn’t true to who you are, running through everything you do, then sure as night follows day, someone, somewhere will notice. Did Volkswagen honestly think that their diesel emissions software wouldn’t be discovered? It beggars belief that a company whose entire brand is based on reliability, dependability and honestly would risk everything. The unfolding story of how they ended up where they did will be equally fascinating and I’m sure, a salutary lesson.
On the flip side of all of this, organizations that are truly centered and grown around ‘doing something good, be that for their local community, their supply partners, their employees, and of course their customers will standup to the scrutiny of today. It’s not about forgoing the profit motive, there’s obviously nothing wrong with that. It’s about your brand and who you really are being one and the same thing.
That’s not to say that honest mistakes won’t happen, but just like with your family, friends and neighbors you’ll be judged by how you honestly own up and apologize and handle this. Honesty, transparency and just doing the right, good thing can take you a long way.
We’re very fortunate at Good Stuff to have partners who inspire us everyday. Their approach to their work makes our job of shaping and bringing their stories to life that much easier and more rewarding. So from Global Fund for Women, fighting for women’s human rights to V-Dog food, supporting your pooches health and the planet, to Ritual Coffee’s direct trade philosophy (and of course keeping us beautifully caffeinated everyday), we say a big thank you.
We’d love to hear who inspires you. Which people and brands in your world show that doing good is just plain good for business?